How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?

Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys

Car accidents are stressful events, and the consequences often extend far beyond the initial shock and damage. While some injuries from a car accident are readily apparent, others may not show symptoms right away.

It is important for anyone involved in a car crash to understand that certain injuries can have delayed onset symptoms, meaning they may appear hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. Alternatively, injury symptoms that seem minor at first may get worse and worse over time if you don’t treat them. Recognizing and addressing these delayed injuries is crucial for receiving the necessary medical care and taking appropriate legal action.

Today, we are looking at commonly delayed injuries that can occur after a car accident and discussing the importance of seeking professional assistance from both medical professionals and experienced attorneys like those at Colbert Cooper Hill.

A woman lying down having blurred vision or a headache from a car accident

What Are Common Delayed Injuries?

Car accidents are responsible for many kinds of injuries. Often, these are immediately evident—but that’s not always the case. For injuries that have a delayed onset, we could be looking at ones like the following:

Whiplash and Neck Injuries

Whiplash occurs when the head is forcefully jerked back and forth due to the impact of a motor vehicle collision. It often affects the soft tissues in the neck, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

The symptoms of whiplash may not be immediately apparent, and you may start experiencing them hours or even days after the accident. Common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and restricted range of motion. Some individuals may also experience shoulder or back pain, tingling or numbness in the arms, and fatigue.

It’s important to note that the delayed onset of whiplash symptoms does not indicate a minor injury. Even if symptoms take time to appear, the underlying damage can be significant. Seeking medical attention promptly is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

Car accidents can also result in traumatic brain injuries, which can have both immediate and delayed symptoms. A traumatic brain injury can occur when the brain sustains trauma from a sudden impact or a violent jolt, such as hitting the head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or window during a collision. (Do note, however, that because TBIs can be caused by the brain hitting the inside of the skull, you don’t necessarily have to hit your head directly to suffer one.)

TBI symptoms can vary widely depending on the severity of the injury, but they may include headaches, confusion, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, nausea, and changes in mood or behavior. While some symptoms may manifest immediately, others can have a delayed onset, appearing hours or even days after the accident.

Delayed symptoms of TBIs can be particularly concerning as they may be subtle or initially attributed to other factors. For example, you may not fully realize a cognitive deficit until you go back to work or attempt certain complex tasks. It’s important to monitor for any cognitive, behavioral, or physical changes and seek medical treatment if there are any concerns.

Soft Tissue Injuries

In addition to whiplash, car accidents can cause various soft tissue injuries that may have delayed symptoms. Soft tissues include muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body.

Examples of soft tissue injuries include muscle strains, sprains, and tears. These injuries may not cause immediate pain or discomfort, but you may start experiencing symptoms as the inflammation and swelling develop over time. Common delayed symptoms of soft tissue injuries include pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

The timeframe for the appearance of symptoms related to a soft tissue injury can vary depending on the specific injury and individual factors. It’s worth noting that delaying medical evaluation and treatment can potentially worsen the condition and lead to complications, so taking care of this sooner rather than later is advisable.

Understanding the delayed onset of these common injuries after a car accident is important for individuals involved to seek appropriate medical care and consider their legal options.

Why Do Delayed Onset of Symptoms Happen?

Since numerous injuries from car accidents have immediate symptoms, like pain or blurred vision, it’s easy to look past those with a delayed onset. While we’ve just looked at examples of what this can look like, why does it happen? The specific answer will depend on a case-by-case basis, but some possible explanations include:

Adrenaline and Stress Response

One reason why symptoms of car accident injuries may have a delayed onset is the body’s natural response to stress and trauma. Immediately following a car accident, the body releases adrenaline, a hormone that helps individuals cope with intense situations. Adrenaline can temporarily mask pain and other symptoms, allowing individuals to focus on immediate safety concerns.

As the adrenaline wears off and the body begins to recover from the shock, the symptoms become more apparent. This can take hours or even days, depending on the individual and the extent of the injuries sustained. It is essential to be mindful of this delayed response and not dismiss any potential symptoms.

Internal Injuries and Inflammation

Car accidents can cause internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, organ damage, or fractures. These injuries may not produce immediate symptoms due to factors like adrenaline, but as the body’s inflammation response sets in, symptoms may gradually appear.

Inflammation is our body’s natural defense mechanism to protect and heal injured tissues. However, the inflammatory process takes time to develop. As the injured areas become inflamed, you may experience pain, swelling, tenderness, or other indications of internal injuries.

The time required for symptoms of internal injuries to manifest can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. It is crucial to seek medical attention promptly, even if symptoms are not immediately present, to ensure any internal injuries are detected and treated appropriately.

Psychological Impact

Car accidents can have a profound psychological impact on the individuals involved. The emotional trauma and stress resulting from an accident may not manifest immediately but can develop over time. Common psychological symptoms that may have a delayed onset include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and phobias related to driving or being in a vehicle.

Don’t minimize the psychological impact of a car accident! These symptoms can significantly affect your overall well-being, and should be part of your personal injury claim. Seeking support from mental health professionals experienced in trauma can be instrumental in coping with and recovering from the psychological effects of a car accident.

Understanding the reasons behind the delayed injury symptoms after a car accident can help you recognize and address your injuries effectively. Once you have a greater understanding of what has and is happening, you can then take the appropriate medical and legal measures.

A couple consulting with a personal injury attorney

Seeking Medical Attention and Legal Assistance

After any car accident, seek immediate medical attention—even if your symptoms seem “not that bad.” A thorough medical evaluation can help detect hidden injuries, assess the severity of known injuries, and establish a medical record linking your symptoms to the crash. That can be vital for any potential legal proceedings—the longer you wait to see a doctor, the more likely the insurance company will try to minimize your symptoms or blame them on something else.

By seeking timely medical care, you can receive appropriate treatment and management for your injuries. It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure your best possible recovery.

Contacting an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Navigating the legal aspects of a car accident claim can be complex and challenging, especially when dealing with insurance companies. That’s why it’s beneficial to seek professional legal assistance from experienced car accident attorneys like Colbert Cooper Hill, who specialize in car accident litigation and insurance settlements.

A great personal injury lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise to protect your rights and advocate for fair compensation for your injuries and losses. They can guide you through the legal process, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit and represent you in court.

At Colbert Cooper Hill, we have a dedicated team of attorneys experienced in car accident cases. We understand the intricacies of car accident litigation and are committed to helping every client achieve the best possible outcomes.

By partnering with an experienced car accident attorney, you can focus on your recovery while having the peace of mind that your legal rights are being protected. Your attorney will work diligently to gather evidence, assess damages, and negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement.

Been in a Car Accident? We Can Help!

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Oklahoma, call The Wolf Pack. We have extensive experience in car accident litigation and insurance settlements, and we help car accident victims statewide take control of their recovery and legal rights. For more information, or to request a consultation, either give us a call at (580) 271-9672 or contact us online today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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